COBie and BIM data, what are they?

COBie and BIM data, what are they?

Are you already working within a BIM environment or just getting to grips with early BIM implementation on your projects? If the answer is ‘yes’, then you’ll need to know about BIM data and the COBie standard!

Why is BIM data important?

A recent study by the University of Florida and the Pennsylvania State University found that an ‘increase in BIM use adoption on projects did have a significant direct effect on increasing project delivery speed, facility quality and group cohesion.‘ Another study carried out by research company Dodge found that 85% of surveyed professionals within the AEC industry quoted a reduction in project costs thanks to BIM. There is nowadays robust evidence demonstrating the advantages of BIM. But if you want these advantages to materialise in your projects, you need to make sure you are using BIM data correctly. And this article will help you achieve just that!

Types of BIM data

Firstly, we need to understand which different types of BIM data exist. This data will be contained within the Project Information Model (PIM), more commonly known as the BIM model. Most people think of a 3D model when they think of BIM. However, a PIM is much more than just a 3D model. The BIM data – or information – within the PIM can be classified under 3 categories:

  • Geometric
  • Non-geometric/alphanumeric
  • Documentation

Geometric information within the BIM model

The geometric information refers to what most of us associate unconsciously to a BIM model, i.e. 3D models. It also includes other geometric data, such as 2D models and drawings. The geometric data is the visual part of the PIM, and maybe it’s for that reason that it’s more memorable to us. It plays an important part in a BIM environment, as it helps all stakeholders to understand the information and aids coordination.

What is COBie then?

The non-geometric or alphanumeric information is not as easy to visualise as a 3D model. This type of data is generally linked to asset systems. For example, it can tell us useful information about a pipe, such as material, inner and outer diameter, strength, colour, finishes, location, etc.

In a previous blog post about Revit and AutoCAD we touched upon the concept of COBie. But what is it exactly? COBie stands for Construction Operations Building Information Exchange. To put it simply, it’s a standardised format to exchange asset information contained within a BIM model. Generally, COBie takes the form of an Excel spreadsheet, and that’s probably one of the reasons why the new ISO 19650 still requires the COBie format. The new international standard for BIM aims to simplify the data exchange process. To that end, it recommends using open source software to exchange information – such as COBie and IFC.

The beauty of the non-geometric information in BIM is that it’s contained within an intelligent model. So, when you are working within your PIM, you should be able to just click on any asset and view or extract all the information attached to it. In an ideal scenario, you can update your COBie data and the non-graphical information within the PIM will automatically update. Similarly, if you update the non-graphical information in the PIM, your COBie data will update automatically as well.

Asset information beyond buildings and construction

COBie was primarily created for buildings in mind, and the standard templates available online are invariably tailored toward architectural projects. But when it comes to other engineering and construction projects, like major infrastructure, COBie may take on a somewhat different form. For example, Highways England require ADMM (Asset Data Management Manual) data in their BIM models. Other asset owners require different types of asset information to be delivered. The client’s EIR (Exchange Information Requirements) should include this, but it’s always good practice to have a conversation with your client to agree what type of asset information format and style they require.

Many research papers suggest that over 70% of the benefits of BIM materialise during the operations and maintenance phase of assets. For example, the maintenance cost of a building during its operating life is much higher than the construction cost. It therefore makes sense that BIM can bring greater benefits during this stage. Imagine for example all the maintenance and repairs associated with MEP work. If you have an intelligent model that tells you where every single cable and pipe is and what their specs are, chances are you will save a lot of time and money in carrying out scheduled maintenance and repairs. Bear this in mind next time you are preparing a BIM model – is not just for construction, it goes far beyond that!

BIM is much more than a 3D model!

Finally, the documentation can include everything from reports to drawing renditions, schedules, specifications, etc. In general, any document that doesn’t fit into the geometric or non-geometric data will probably be part of the documentation. So next time you think about a BIM Model, remember that it’s much more than what you see in 3D!

If you need any help producing COBie for your projects, or developing intelligent BIM Models, get in touch with us. GlobalCAD specialises in BIM and CAD services, and we can help you to bring more value to your projects.

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